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Road Rage – How to deal with angry drivers

2 minute read

Motor vehicle accident

If you've never been involved in a road rage incident in Australia, you're likely one of the lucky ones. In a 2023 survey by Budget Direct, a staggering 83% of Australian respondents claimed to have been a victim of road rage. This just shows how common it is on our Australian roads. 

Here we talk through what road rage is, how to deal with angry drivers and what to do if you’re involved in a car accident fuelled by road rage.

Definition of road rage 

The definition of road rage is really quite simple – ‘aggressive or violent behaviour by one motorist towards another motorist’. This could be anything from swearing or making rude gestures, to actively threatening or even harming another driver.  

Examples of road rage 

Road rage can result from many different road incidents and look different every time. These incidents might arise when one car tries to merge into the lane of another, when drivers don’t indicate or when one motorist tailgates another. 

Incidents of road rage can lead to rude gestures, verbal abuse or even being forced off the road. More serious cases of road rage can involve car damage or physical assault. Unfortunately, in some incidents of road rage it has led to serious harm, including causing another driver’s death. 

Regardless of the official definition or meaning of road rage, if you feel threatened on the road, and unsafe due to the aggressive actions of another motorist, you might be a victim of road rage. And, in these instances, it’s important to report what you have experienced to your local police station. 

What causes road rage? 

Road rage can be triggered for a variety of reasons. It doesn’t just happen to highly strung or impatient people. Even mild-mannered people can find themselves experiencing incidents of road rage while driving. 

Factors such as traffic congestion, being late, stress levels generally or even problems in your personal life can make you prone to experiencing anger while driving more easily. Feeling a need for control and being territorial can also contribute to aggressive behaviour on the road. 

How to control road rage 

While at the wheel, there are a number of ways you can control your own temper and emotions.  

  • Plan out your journey and allow enough time to get there. Rushing adds unneeded stress. 

  • Leave your personal problems behind when getting into the driver’s seat. 

  • Avoid caffeine or energy drinks that make you agitated. 

  • Accept that other drivers make mistakes but try not to let it upset you. 

  • Find a safe place to pull over and unwind if you’re struggling to control your emotions.  

What to do if you are the victim of road rage 

If you are unfortunate enough to become the victim of road rage, there are some ways you can help defuse the situation. Check out our tips below: 

  • Avoid eye contact: don’t engage with road rage behaviour by looking at the aggressive driver or returning rude gestures. 

  • Stay in your car: don’t get out of your vehicle or retaliate when met with road rage. This could make the situation worse and may put you in danger. 

  • Increase the gap when driving: slow down to increase the distance between your car and theirs if an angry driver is in front of you. 

  • Let them pass: pull over in a safe place to let the aggressive driver pass if you can or maintain a steady speed if you’re being tailgated. 

  • Don’t go home: if an aggravated driver is following you, avoid going home . Drive to the nearest police station instead. 

  • Report a dangerous driver: If you have experience road rage yourself, or perhaps been a witness to this kind of behaviour, it’s important you play a role of keeping our roads safe by reporting the driver.  

    • In QLD: lodge the report online or by phone to 13 HOON (13 46 66) 

    • In NSW: call 131 444 

    • In ACT: call 131 444 

    • In VIC: lodge a report online or call 1800 333 000 

    • In SA: call 131 444 

    • In WA: call 131 444 

    • In NT: call 1800 333 000 

Avoid being the victim of road rage 

One of the best ways to avoid being a victim of road rage is to be courteous and drive safely. This is less likely to aggravate other road users who may already be stressed and short-tempered. Think about adopting driving behaviours like: 

  • Following the road rules 

  • Giving way to people when merging or joining traffic 

  • Using indicators to give plenty of notice when changing lanes 

  • Allowing other drivers to overtake 

  • Driving in a way that’s predictable to other road users  

Shine Lawyers – we’re here to help 

Our team of motor vehicle claim experts can help guide you through the legal process if you’ve been a victim of road rage and have suffered as a result. Contact us today for an obligation free consultation or you can use our free online booking tool to check if you have an eligible claim. 

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